The action is as a result of activities between 2003 and 2005 held to be in breach of the Code, including Clause 2 which deals with actions likely to bring discredit on, or reduce confidence in, the pharmaceutical industry.
The suspension was decided upon by the ABPI Board of Management.
‘The highest possible ethical standards are required by the pharmaceutical industry in all its activities. Breaches of the Code are viewed seriously and this is reflected by the suspension,’ said Chris Brinsmead, President of the ABPI.
A complaint was made by a former Roche employee who referred to an article in the Financial Times (12 February 2008). The article alleged that Roche had sold large quantities of Xenical (a prescription only medicine for the treatment of obesity) to the operator of private diet clinics. Further the article alleged that Roche had agreed to provide £55,000 for the operator to purchase another clinic.
The Code of Practice Panel of the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA) – an arm’s length body that administers the ABPI Code of Practice – ruled that the supply of Xenical was inappropriate. On appeal by Roche, the PMCPA Appeal Board upheld the finding, considering the supply possibly prejudicial to patient safety. The Panel also ruled that the proposed payment (part of which had been paid) was linked to the use of Xenical and so was in breach of the Code.
Roche has accepted the rulings and taken action to prevent their recurrence.
Because of the serious nature of the case, the Panel reported Roche to the Appeal Board which decided that the company should be publicly reprimanded and reported to the ABPI Board of Management with a recommendation that Roche be suspended from membership of the ABPI. The ABPI Board concurred and suspended Roche from membership for six months. Re-entry is conditional upon an audit of the company’s procedures proving satisfactory to the ABPI Board.
Details of the suspension and the reasons for it will be advertised in the medical and pharmaceutical press. Full details of the cases can be viewed online via the PMCPA website, Case AUTH/2099/2/08 and Case AUTH/2100/2/08.
About the ABPI:
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has 150 members including the large majority of the research-based pharmaceutical companies operating in the UK, both large and small. Our member companies research, develop, manufacture and supply more than 80 per cent of the medicines prescribed through the National Health Service (NHS). For further information visit: www.abpi.org.uk
Media contact: ABPI Press office, 020 7747 1410.